When finishing basements we are often asked to install fireplaces. The main reason is that our customers are concerned that their newly finished living space will not be warm enough to achieve the comfort level they want. This is a legitimate concern. The main reason why this is true is that most new houses are heated with forced air gas furnaces and that these heating systems do not provide enough heat in basements. We often find that there are not enough heating supply vents installed in basements and that most of these vents are installed in the ceiling area between the main floor framing joists. When warm air is pushed out through these vents, the heat rises and without additional air movement and will dissipate upwards towards the main floor of the house, up the staircase, etc. The heat that is pumped into the basement is rarely enough and is rarely evenly distributed.
The most common question we hear is, “Should we install a gas or electric fireplace?” Here are the pros and cons of each type:
Gas fireplaces cost about $5,000.00 installed not including mantle, hearth or surround. This is assuming that the installation is being done in an unfinished basement where it is easy to run a gas supply line and venting pipe. Most will generate a huge amount of heat very quickly and are typically more powerful than what most basements require. The biggest challenge is exhaust venting. The maximum length of a vent pipe by construction code is less than 15′, usually around 10′. This can restrict a gas fireplace from being installed on some walls. Although the venting distance can be extended using a power vent system, we generally do not recommend this due to the noise of the power vent.
Electric Fireplaces cost about $1,200.00 installed not including mantle, hearth or surround. This is assuming that the installation is being done in an unfinished basement where it is easy to run a separate electrical circuit from the house electric panel to the fireplace.
Electric fireplaces do not generate as much heat as a gas fireplace and will take longer to heat the desired space. They also cost more to operate than a gas fireplace. The advantage is that they are cheaper and can be installed anywhere because they do not require any exhaust venting.
Two common features that we strongly recommend are to make sure that your fireplace has a fan in it and also that your fireplace has an external wall-mounted thermostat connected to it to monitor and control the temperature setting of the fireplace.
We also offer custom finishing for mantels, hearths and surrounds in any combination of drywall, wood, stone veneer or tile.
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